• Trump May Be Preparing To Challenge the Election Results
• Trump Says His Campaign is Unified
• What If Trump Dumps Trump?
• Trump Revises July Haul Upward
• How To Play Trump in Clinton's Debate Prep
• Team Clinton To Spend Almost $100 Million on Ads
• Meg Whitman Supports Clinton
• Texas Won't Ask for Voter ID Cards in November
• Tea Party Congressman Defeated in Primary in Kansas
• Lewandowski is Back on the Birther Train
• What if the Democrats Nominated Sean Penn?
• Today's Presidential Polls
• Today's Senate Polls
As you can see, the main page of this site features a presidential election map, but we are also tracking the Senate in detail as well. Just click on "Click for Senate" in the blue bar above the map for the main Senate page. There, too, mousing over a state shows the current polling status and clicking on a state gives its polling history. The menu to the left of the Senate maps gives further information about the Senate races. So far, the Republicans seem to be hanging on. The "Control of the Senate" link to the left of the Senate map shows how the overall Senate race has been doing all year. Currently, it looks like this:
Another useful page relating to the Senate is the Tipping-point state. Its structure is the same as the analogous one for president. In both cases, the bluest state (Hawaii) is on top with the reddest state (South Dakota) on the bottom, based on current polls (or in the absence of any polls, the 2010 Senate election). Here is the middle of the Senate tipping-point table as an example.
Here is how to read it: The rows are ordered from easiest to win for the Democrats on top to easiest to win for the Republicans at the bottom. The hand icon in the "Dem seats" column means the easiest way for the Democrats to get 51 seats in the Senate is to win all the states from top down to and including the hand icon state. Pennsylvania is the lowest one where the Democrat is currently ahead. That is why Pennsylvania is blue. The easiest path for the Democrats to get to 51 is to pick up Nevada, Arizona, and New Hampshire. Of course, if Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) is elected vice president, 50 seats will do for the Democrats since Kaine will actually have a day job as President of the Senate.
Now for the Republicans. There the hand is already in red territory. If they can hold the red states from South Dakota up through and including Arizona, they have a majority. They can lose Nevada and still have 51 seats. Winning Nevada, where Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) is currently ahead, is the cherry on the sundae: nice, but not really needed.
If the presidential election starts to become a blowout, then all the action will be in the Senate races, especially those close to the two hand icons. If you want to get involved or make donations to help your party, the Senate races near the hand icons are the ones to focus on.
If Clinton wins the presidential election but the Republicans hold the Senate, the worst fears of Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) supporters will be confirmed. To get anything at all done, Clinton will have to meet the Republicans more than halfway on everything, including judicial appointments. On the other hand, if Sanders had won the nomination and the White House, it would probably have been worse with a Republican Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would have reasoned that his strategy of obstructing President Obama at every turn worked, so why not double down? What would happen if McConnell's Senate simply voted down all of Sanders' cabinet choices until Sanders allowed McConnell to pick them? With no cabinet or subcabinet or subsubcabinet in place, the government would grind to a complete halt and the Republicans would blame Sanders for his "extreme left-wing picks," no matter how mainstream they really were. It wouldn't be pretty. (V)
As Donald Trump is already claiming the election is rigged, months before the first vote is counted, he is possibly setting the stage to challenge the results in order to de-legitimize Hillary Clinton if she wins, according to election law expert Richard Hasen. A serious challenge to Clinton if she wins could poison the country and bring on a constitutional crisis precisely when the 8-member Supreme Court is ill-prepared to resolve any disputes that may arise out of the election.
One of the hallmarks of a democracy is that election losers concede and let the winners govern (or else they try to secede and start a civil war). In 1960, Richard Nixon conceded to John F. Kennedy, even though Kennedy's margin of victory was only 1% and many observers suspected foul play in both Illinois and Texas. In 2000, Al Gore did not insist on contesting the Florida election when the electoral votes were counted in Congress. If Trump loses, he might not go gentle into that good night, with disastrous consequences for the country. (V)
It's been a rough week for the Trump campaign, between the Khan fiasco, his stumbles on Ukraine, and his ongoing battles with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and the RNC, and his sagging national poll numbers. Donald Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to assure supporters that all was well, however, declaring that, "There is great unity in my campaign, perhaps greater than ever before."
Trump's statement runs contrary to behind the scenes information that has leaked out over the past two days. According to several sources, campaign staff is frustrated by Trump's inability to stay on message, and his repeated unforced errors. One person, speaking off the record, said they "feel like they are wasting their time," while another said that everyone—up to and including Trump's right-hand man Paul Manafort—is now just "mailing it in." Manafort and others joined Trump in insisting that this is not the case.
The truth is probably somewhere in between the two extremes, but the fact that the rumors have gained such wide circulation says volumes about public perception. It also does not help when, for example, Trump refuses to endorse Ryan, and the next day running mate Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) says, "I strongly support Paul Ryan, strongly endorse his re-election." Even supporters surely have to wonder how Pence and Trump could so obviously not be on the same page about such a high-profile question. (Z)
Speaking of whispers and public perception: Donald Trump's terrible week, plus his talk of rigged elections, plus his apparent desire not to debate Hillary Clinton have given new life to rumors that he will not actually see this thing through, and that he will drop out at some point in the process. RNC officials, in fact, are already preparing for this possibility.
We've already covered, in a fair bit of detail, the various scenarios where Trump wins the election but resigns before assuming the presidency. But what happens if he drops out before the election? In that case, it would be up to the 168 members of the Republican National Committee to pick his replacement, with each state's delegation allocating all of that state's delegates. For example, Texas is entitled to 155 delegates, and is represented on the RNC by Tom Mechler, Robin Armstrong, and Toni Anne Dashiell. If the trio agreed on a candidate—say, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)—then Cruz would get all 155 of Texas' delegates. If they split—say, Mechler and Armstrong like Cruz, but Dashiell likes Paul Ryan—then the delegates would be divided proportionally, with Cruz getting 102 delegates and Ryan getting 53. Once a person received a majority of all the delegates, then he or she would be the new candidate. Note that this can happen only if Trump exits voluntarily; RNC rules do not allow the committee to force a candidate to retire.
If Trump were to drop out in August, then it could be the worst case scenario for Hillary Clinton. Assuming the replacement is Ryan, or someone else who is fairly electable, the candidate would benefit from a wave of enthusiasm from GOP supporters who had been disheartened by Trump. That person would have only two months to campaign and raise money, which is bad, but would also have only two months to make serious blunders and to be targeted by the Democrats' negative advertising, which is good. This unknown candidate—again, assuming it is not Ted Cruz or someone else that is on or near the fringe—would probably be a bigger threat to take the White House than Trump is.
If Trump were to drop out in September or October, on the other hand, then this would be the disaster scenario for the Republicans. There would simply not be enough time to choose a replacement, and to get his or her name on the ballot in enough states to win. If Donald Trump's name is what's on the ballot, then checking his name is only a vote for Donald Trump electors, and not for "whoever is running for president as a Republican." Now, you may ask, "But what about writing the replacement candidate's name in on the ballot?" As we have noted before, that's only an option in Alabama, Delaware, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Wyoming. Elsewhere, write-ins are forbidden, or are only allowed for declared write-in candidates. In most states, the deadline for declaring oneself as a write-in has already passed.
Now, what would happen if Trump, even having dropped out, won some electors? That could become messy. In 21 states, those electors would be free agents, free to vote for whomever they wish. In the other 29 states, by contrast, state law declares that an elector must vote for whatever candidate they are pledged to. These laws have never been enforced, nor tested in court, however, so it's not clear exactly what their effect would be. If Trump were to drop out on, say, September 15, it is theoretically possible that the GOP could get the replacement candidate's name on the ballot in some states, and could try to convince Trump electors to defect in others, thus cobbling together 270 electoral votes and a victory. However, the odds of this working out are extremely remote, starting with the fact that Trump electors are—somewhat by definition—not fans of the GOP establishment. Gaming the system in this way would presumably also be very unpopular with much of the voting public, and would not be good for the health of the democracy.
It should be noted that there has been no indication whatsoever that Trump is actually thinking about dropping out. But if he does, it will be up to him to decide to choose timing that either (a) still gives the GOP a chance of winning the election, or (b) gives them no real chance of winning. Given his well-known and oft-displayed enmity for the RNC, the smart money would seem to be on the latter option. (Z)
Donald Trump had previously reported raising $36 million in July, but it now appears that was just for his campaign proper. When his joint fundraising with the RNC is included, the total is now $80 million, only slightly less than Hillary Clinton's total (including her joint fundraising) of $90 million. So the assumption that many observers had made that Trump would be outspent 3 to 1, 4 to 1, or more, might not be true. On the other hand, Clinton already has a large paid-for infrastructure in place and Trump doesn't, so he is going to have to start spending on things like renting office space, buying computers, etc. that she has already done. (V)
The first debate is currently scheduled for Sept. 26. Hillary Clinton has to work on the assumption that it will happen and on schedule, although it is possible that Trump will skip out, as he did once during the primaries. For her mock debates to prepare for the real one, she needs someone to play Trump. Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, who played Sarah Palin in Joe Biden's 2008 debate prep, gives Mock Trump some advice.
First, watch as many videos of Trump as possible and try to master his mannerisms and idioms. Try to put yourself in his mindset. Keep in mind that he actually won a lot of primaries over strong opponents, so take him seriously. A possible problem for any Clinton supporter playing the role is not to take Trump seriously. A key issue here is who will play Trump. It can't be a wonky politician who will give substantive answers to detailed policy questions, since Trump won't do that. The person has to be a good actor. One suggestion Granholm made is to find a billionaire, for example, Mark Cuban. (V)
Hillary Clinton's campaign and her super PACs are about to dump $98 million into television ads. About $8.6 million will go into national ads, but the rest will go into ads in nine states that Clinton sees as having the highest priority. Here are the numbers:
|State||Amount||$ per vote|
|North Carolina||$9.0 million||$2.00|
|New Hampshire||$6.7 million||$9.46|
The third column is the amount being spent divided by the total 2012 votes in the state. The differences reflect a number of factors, including how much ads cost in each state, how many media markets there are, how many persuadable voters are left, how effective the ads are expected to be, and so on. For comparison purposes, the Trump campaign currently has $1 million budgeted for ads but his campaign raised $36 million in July, so more ads will be forthcoming. (V)
Meg Whitman is the CEO of HP and former CEO of eBay. She spent $140 million of her own money in a failed run as the Republican candidate for governor of California in 2010. Yesterday she announced that she will vote for Hillary Clinton, will donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to Clinton's super PAC, and will try to get many of her wealthy friends and colleagues in Silicon Valley to do likewise. Whitman is close to Mitt Romney and was the finance chair for Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) in his presidential run earlier this year. It is hard to be more of a Republican than she is, yet she has jumped ship to Clinton and will actively help her. What changed her mind is that she believes that Donald Trump has the makings of a new Mussolini or Hitler and he must be stopped right now. (V)
The state of Texas has reached an agreement with the Justice Dept. to refrain from requiring voters to show ID to vote this November, after having lost a court case about the new voter-ID law. This is just a one-time agreement, however, as the case will go the the Supreme Court eventually. Legislators said the law was needed to prevent rampant voter fraud despite the fact that only two people in Texas have been convicted of voting fraud in the past decade. Texas is not a swing state, so the agreement is not likely to affect the election much, but it could be a template for North Carolina, Wisconsin, and other states that are swingier, and where the state has lost similar cases recently. (V)
As Thomas Frank put it: "What's the matter with Kansas?" In this rock-ribbed Republican state, a sitting congressman and tea party supporter, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), was whomped by Roger Marshall, a physician backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It wasn't even close, with Marshall taking 57% of the vote to Huelskamp's 43%. Their actual positions on the issues are not that different. The difference is that Huelskamp is an in-your-face tea partier who refuses to compromise on anything. Marshall is willing to talk to other Republicans and even to Democrats to get things done.
The House Freedom Caucus is blaming Paul Ryan for the loss of one of its most outspoken members. A key issue in the election was Huelskamp's former seat on the Agriculture Committee, from which he was removed in 2012. Ryan refused to say whether he would put him back on it in 2017 and this became a big election issue, with the Freedom Caucus saying that Ryan was intentionally trying to get rid of Huelskamp. This primary defeat is only going to fuel more hatred between Ryan and the tea party. Ryan faces his own primary on Tuesday and there is nothing that the Freedom Caucus would like better than to see him go down in flames. Donald Trump would also like to see Ryan defeated, and half a dozen of his former campaign hands are working for Ryan's opponent, businessman Paul Nehlen, a Trump supporter. Ryan is expected to win, but so was Eric Cantor in 2014. (V)
Onetime Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was on CNN on Tuesday night, and was—as is usual with him—promoting Donald Trump and lambasting President Obama. The subject of Obama's college years came up, and Lewandowski dusted off a pair of old conspiracy theories, wondering why the President has never released his college transcripts, and suggesting that they contain information that would confirm that Obama was not a citizen while he was attending Harvard. This is nonsense, of course. College transcripts do not include this information (Z is looking at his as he writes this). What does include this information is birth certificates, which Obama has shared over and over, going so far as to post a copy to the White House web site.
In any case, the real issue here is not Lewandowski's rehashing of a tired conspiracy theory. The real issue is, "What is CNN doing?" In the interest of balance, they have a number of regular talking heads who are unabashed Trump supporters and who have spent time on The Donald's payroll (Lewandowski, Andy Dean, Jeff Lord). Lewandowski, in fact, is apparently still on the Trump payroll. It is one thing to get a variety of perspectives, but it is quite another to give someone a platform for their advocacy, and then to pay them on top of that. Reportedly, the staff of the CNN newsroom was comfortable with the Lewandowski hire, since he knows "about how [Trump's] campaign thinks and works." One wonders if they still feel that way, because CNN's coverage seems less and less designed to help people understand the election, and more and more designed to trigger shouting matches between Trump partisans and the rest of the talking heads. That can't make the actual journalists on the payroll very happy. (Z)
Most Democrats (and more than a few Republicans) are mystified by Donald Trump's ongoing success, as he overcame a dozen real politicians to claim the Republican nomination, and as he continues to overcome scandal after scandal. In an effort to resolve the mystery, in 140 characters or less, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat tweeted: "Imagine a race where the choices were an unfit, paranoid, unstable Democratic nominee and Rick Santorum." As a thought exercise, Slate's Seth Stevenson took the question further, positing that actor and activist Sean Penn secures the Democratic nomination over a divided field.
Now, it could be argued that a better parallel to Trump is actually Internet tycoon and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban: billionaire, outspoken, loves Twitter, reality TV star, questionable loyalty to the Democratic Party. Still, the actor isn't a bad choice. Stevenson writes:
Penn's campaign launch meets with amused chuckles within the Democratic Party establishment. He's a sideshow. A man whose most recent accomplishment is a voice role in The Angry Birds Movie. A man who's attacked the media—with actual fists! A man who expressed heartfelt fondness for Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez and empathy for Mexican drug kingpin El Chapo. Penn brings star power to the process, but no one thinks he'll get anywhere. So the Democratic National Committee holds its tongue.
It quickly becomes clear that a certain Bernie-ish swath of primary voters can't get enough of Penn. He rants about social justice issues with a raw ferocity that packaged liberal politicians never quite muster. He rips into right-wing enemies with salty language and palpable anger. He's a loose cannon on Twitter and seems nigh incorruptible. He commands the stage at large rallies, where folks come out just to see a Hollywood celeb. Over the summer and into the fall, he soars in the polls. Still, no one takes any of that seriously. It's Sean Penn, after all.
The debates begin. Penn's performance exposes policy ignorance, an unwillingness to do his homework, and a general dimness swirled with arrogance. But there he is, always at the center of the stage, always getting the most attention, fighting with the moderators. To his supporters, he can do no wrong. They point to his humanitarian work after Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti earthquake. They argue that the pseudo-journalistic trips he took to Pakistan and Iran constitute foreign policy experience.
In short, while Penn's offensiveness would probably take a different form from Trump's in some ways—less racism, but more kowtowing to dangerous left-wing dictators, fewer verbal attacks on the press, but more physical attacks on the press—he would seemingly be similarly unqualified, ill-informed, egotistical, and temperamentally unsuited to the presidency.
At this point, the Democratic-leaning amongst you might ask yourselves: Would you vote for Penn to stop Rick Santorum from getting into the White House? Or Ted Cruz? Or Mike Pence? Our guess is that most of you would, doing your best to rationalize the choice. Perhaps, "Well, at least Penn is shaking things up!" Or, "He won't be able to get anything done, but at least he won't do actual harm, like Santorum/Cruz/Pence would." Or, "He's not really going to run the country; he'll surround himself with qualified people, and then they can do the real work."
Now let's go one step further. Imagine there is a big terrorist attack somewhere in America on Nov. 1 and Trump wins the election. He governs badly and by 2020 has an approve/disapprove rating of 20/80, the worst in history. Every Democrat and his uncle thinks he can beat Trump in 2020, so 30 Democrats run in the primary, each averaging about 3%. Kanye West and Kim Kardashian flip a coin and Kim wins. She enters the primary as a Democrat (mostly as a publicity stunt) and with 5% of the vote becomes the leading candidate. Since the Democrats have eliminated the superdelegates and opened all the primaries to please Bernie Sanders, large numbers of Republicans vote in the Democratic primary and she gets the nomination. She is totally unqualified and knows nothing about politics, but campaigns in a skimpy bikini and draws crowds far larger than any candidate in history. Once in a while she reads a speech written by a staffer from a teleprompter and seems like a normal Democrat. As her running mate, she picks a standard Democrat, say Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY). The question now is would Democrats support her in the general election against Trump, even though by comparison she makes him—now with four years in the White House under his belt—look like a real statesman. Once again, our guess is yes they would, even though Republicans would say "She's completely stupid and has never run anything."
This may be as close as outsiders to the Trump movement will get to understanding what's going on in 2016. And, assuming that this exercise is getting us somewhere near the realm of the truth, it explains how hard it will be for Hillary Clinton to erode The Donald's support. If his voters loathe her (which they certainly do) and they've already decided that competence, experience, and temperament are not relevant to them, how do you run against that? (Z & V)
We have polls today in North Carolina and Pennyslvania. North Carolina has flipped back to Trump. It is likely to seesaw all year. And yet another poll showing that Pennsylvania is probably not in reach of the Trump campaign. However, note that Clinton is down to 273 EVs today. If Trump can win the two tied states, Ohio and Florida, and flip Arizona back, he would win. Despite all the controversy Trump has been involved in, right now, the election looks surprisingly close. But in a week, it could be completely different. It is that volatile this year .
It is worth noting that the state polls and our average take a while to catch up to the national polls because the states aren't polled that often. For example, the last Florida poll was released on July 13. We have had Florida tied since then, but there surely has been some movement there. But until someone polls Florida again, we won't know what's going on there. In contrast, there are national polls almost every day. Once we get to the fall, polls in the key swing states will become more frequent. (V)
|North Carolina||42%||46%||6%||Jul 31||Aug 02||Civitas/SurveyUSA|
|Pennsylvania||49%||38%||6%||Jul 29||Aug 01||Franklin+Marshall Coll.|
Unlike the presidential race in Pennsylvania, where Clinton has had a solid lead for months, the Senate race looks to be a real nail biter. (V)
|State||Democrat||D %||Republican||R %||Start||End||Pollster|
|Pennsylvania||Katie McGinty||39%||Pat Toomey*||38%||Jul 29||Aug 01||Franklin+Marshall Coll.|
* Denotes incumbent
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Aug03 Trump Spokeswoman Blames Obama for Humayun Khan's Death
Aug03 Trump Got Five Draft Deferments to Stay Out of Vietnam
Aug03 Trump Receives a Purple Heart
Aug03 Trump Refuses To Endorse Ryan or McCain
Aug03 The Walls: Red, White, and Blue (and Pink)
Aug03 Clinton Outraised Trump in July
Aug03 DNC Shakeups Continue
Aug03 Jill Stein Names Her Running Mate
Aug02 The Khan Story Just Won't Die
Aug02 Gallup: Democratic Convention Better Than Republican Convention
Aug02 Clinton Leads in New National Polls
Aug02 Surprise Endorsements for Clinton and Trump
Aug02 Trump Is Afraid the Election May Be Rigged
Aug02 Trump Raised $36 Million in July
Aug02 Trump Fights FireFighters with Fire
Aug02 Buffett Presses Trump on Tax Returns
Aug02 The October Surprise Could Be in Iraq
Aug02 McCain Is Caught Between a Rock and a Border Wall
Aug02 Wasserman Schultz Leads Her Primary Opponent
Aug02 Trump Praises Ryan's Primary Challenger
Aug01 Clinton Gets Convention Bounce
Aug01 Koch Brothers Will Not Help Trump
Aug01 Top Sanders Surrogate May Join Green Ticket
Aug01 The Battle for Pennsylvania Is All About Geography
Aug01 Ohio Is Also about Geography
Aug01 The Debate Schedule Will Not Be Changed
Aug01 Counties and Towns Purge Minority Voters
Aug01 Ghazala Khan Speaks Out
Aug01 Did Trump Go Too Far?
Aug01 Trump Stumbles on Ukraine
Aug01 New York Post Runs Nude Picture of Melania Trump on the Front Page
Aug01 Wasserman Schultz's Headaches Aren't Over
Jul31 The Convention Ratings Are In
Jul31 Federal Court Strikes Down Wisconsin Voter ID Law
Jul31 Trump Will Concentrate on Only Four States
Jul31 Trump's Racism Could Cost Him White Votes
Jul31 Trump Is Likely To Have Trouble in Colorado
Jul31 Why Trump Might Avoid the Debates
Jul31 Trump in War of Words With Khizr Khan
Jul31 The Luddites Strike Back
Jul31 How Should the U.S. Strike Back at Russia's Hacking?
Jul31 How Does Steve King Keep Getting Elected?
Jul30 General Election Expected To Be the Ugliest in Memory
Jul30 Trump Attacks the Democrats in a Massive Tweet Storm
Jul30 Will Trump Show Up For Debates?
Jul30 Federal Court Strikes Down North Carolina Voter ID Law
Jul30 Manafort Explains Why Women Will Vote for Trump
Jul30 Do Republican and Democratic States Brag About Different Things?
Jul30 Bernie-or-Bust Delegates Are Not Conceding